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Productivity Tools & Processes

Some new productivity ideas and tools I want to try


I currently use Todoist because it works great across all my various devices. I also have switched to Productive for my habit tracking because I like to have an AM and PM habit list.

See my Uses page for my most up-to-date list of productivity tools.

Last week as I was driving to a user group meeting, I listed to a podcast episode. The subject was managing email. Since then I have cleaned up my inbox and I have been at inbox zero or close to it all week. Between my 5 email accounts I have 1 message in my inbox right now. I'm used to having thousands of emails in my inbox, half of them unread.

One thing that has helped is that I have determined that my inbox is a terrible todo list. I have started using Wunderlist more to manage my daily tasks.

Generally I’ll start my morning by looking through my todo list in Wunderlist. I’ll set due dates on all the items I want to get done today and set the due date as today. Wunderlist has an automatic category named Today where I can see all the tasks I have set as due today.

I generally try to have no more than 10 tasks. Some are long tasks, some are simple. My goal is to get through the task list for the day. I work on one until I check it off, then I work on another I generally get about 5-6 task done in a day leaving 4-5 left that are still in my today list the next day because they are now marked as overdue. I generally just mark them as due today, or leave them as overdue and because they show up in red they tend to get a higher priority.

So as I go through my emails, if there is something that I need to take action on, I move it into my todo list. Basically, the only thing that stays in my inbox is a message that I need to reply to and I can’t just reply quickly to. Either it needs some thought or action first. But, if it needs some action first, I will generally put it in my todo list and then find the email later and reply after I complete the todo task.

For email I have been using a combination of Airmail, Gmail, and I just got the beta of Mailbox for Mac, which have been using on my iPhone and I really like it. Each client has it’s pros & cons, but I think I'll save that topic for another day.

Last night I listed to a talk from Nathan Barry from MicroConf 2014. It was a good reminder of the power of habits and doing things on a daily basis. He actually wrote an iPhone app to track your habit goals and your streak. I looked at it and ultimately decided on a different one named Habit List. Today is my first day using it but so far I really like the flexible features. For example, some habit I may only want to do on Mon, Wed, Fri. Some habits I want to do 5 days a week, but it doesn't matter which days. Habit List supports these features. I just really wish they had a desktop app to go with it like Wunderlist.

Hopefully I can develop some good habits and report back later that the productivity apps and processes are still working.

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Dustin Davis

Dustin Davis is a software engineer, people manager, hacker, and entreprenuer. He loves to develop systems and automation. He lives with his wife and five kids in Utah.

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Dustin Davis